Sunday, 18 April 2010


Noah Gearbox, a journalist from New York and SLLU member, in discussion with Plot Tracer about organising in SL.

[8:00] Noah Gearbox: Hi!

[8:02] Plot Tracer: Hi :)

[8:02] Plot Tracer: What can i do for you, Noah?

[8:03] Noah Gearbox: Well, I'm kind of curious about what you think has been most effective inSL

[8:03] Noah Gearbox: In terms of organizing

[8:03] Plot Tracer: depends what u mean.

[8:03] Plot Tracer: there are different events/ conditions need different kinds of organising

[8:04] Noah Gearbox: Of course -- what are the main things that generally get addressed in-world these days

[8:05] Plot Tracer: :) tbh, I have been out of the loop since February (I was banned... you can read about it on my blog - as well as my Avatars United site... i intend writing a longer article soon... but up to my eyes with General Election in UK...


I personally think that it is rl issues that are most effectively addressed in SL. I think SL is a brilliant platform to raise awareness and help educate potential rl activists.

I mean for example

The Italian contingent in SLLU have effectively educated people from across the world about the anti-Berlusconi movement in Italy through music events that coincide with rl events in italy. Also, the IBM strike in Italy a couple of years back was extremely effective - it was a "virtual" strike - and it lead to the sacking of IBM Italy’s ceo and the workers won their rights

[8:09] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, the IBM strike is really interesting to me.

[8:10] Plot Tracer: Personally, I think raising awareness through events/ demonstrations/ meetings/ exhibitions all have their place.

[8:10] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, totally. Do you think that people make the real-world connection more often than not?

[8:12] Plot Tracer: I think people do make a rl connection. For example - when we led the anti-Front National demonstrations inworld, a lot of people who had no idea of what fascism means learned about it here - through dialogue and personal research.

[8:13] Noah Gearbox: That's good -- so if you tackle real-world issues, people will make the connection

[8:13] Plot Tracer: Also - something that was unique about the anti front national thing at the time was the noobness of the sl platform, so we managed to get press releases about the fight against front national into press across the real world - from San Francisco through to Japan!

I think inworld issues... like issues of privacy / LL's policies are just like complaining to McDonalds about the fact there is too much pickle on their big macs. (Tho not entirely- I will expand on this another time).

[8:15] Noah Gearbox: Hah, yeah. OK.
The point about criticizing SL kind of brings me to something I've been thinking about in my own RL work, which is that it's really hard to escape capitalist means of production.

Because ultimately SL is run by a commercial enterprise, so how do you square doing organizing on a platform like SL with that reality?

[8:24] Plot Tracer: well - it is no different than organising through facebook or twitter - or blogspot or whatever - all of these are "enclosed" parts of the web - ie. parts of the web ran by commercial enterprise. Capitalism is insidious - hard to escape! Unfortunately in order to exist reasonably comfortably in society we must interact with all kinds of compromises - shopping in ASDA/Walmart/ Tesco/ Lidl/ Marks and Spencer... climbing on board a Greyhound/ Stagecoach bus/ buying petrol/ etc. Lot's of the political parties in rl stand outside supermarkets in order to give out leaflets etc - because that is where people are.

SL is a great place for people to come together to share ideas etc. In a socialist society, places like this would exist without the profit intention. Good ideas survive the fall of societies. Look at roads... the Romans refined that idea... and we kept them :)

[8:27] Noah Gearbox: Well do you think the attitude about SL that it is a "business" platform gets in your way, or helps you?

[8:27] Plot Tracer: it would be a strange thing to say, "I am a socialist, so i wont interact with capitalist society".

[8:27] Noah Gearbox: mhm

[8:28] Plot Tracer: It is essential for survival to interact in capitalist society - but at the same time, pointing out its inadequacies and pushing for change, regardless of what you call that change (reform/ revolution etc)
Pulling down Linden Lab would be counter active. It is the system that has forced LL to make SL more and more commercial that needs to be changed. If the system is changed, then LL will evolve into that system (call the new system what u like - socialism/ a fair society etc)

[8:30] Noah Gearbox: mmm. Yeah, I see what you mean.

[8:31] Noah Gearbox: I have always struggled with the fact that the technology I use for a lot of my work is on many levels sullied by capitalism and its attendant violence.

[8:32] Plot Tracer: But everything is! From the bike you ride to the car u own to the company that supplies electricity to your house to the rings on your fingers’ and food on your plate

as i said, it is impossible within a system to totally disengage from it. we have to push for change/revolution/reform

[8:34] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, I agree. It's sometimes a difficult matter to explain to people.

It's kind of funny because people have a specific idea of what is "serious," too, I find.

[8:36] Plot Tracer: the start off point is to ensure people realise they are in that system... they have to become educated/radicalised etc. We can’t do that for them, but we can hold up the evidence of the barbarity of the present system. Only through their own education can people become "conscious".

[8:36] Noah Gearbox: Have you found SL residents to be receptive to thinking about their Second Lives in critical ways?

[8:39] Plot Tracer: Well, that is a difficult question. Generally people come to SL to escape their rl in lots of ways. Some in Role play others to make friends others to engage in representations of sex they do not engage in in rl etc. I think people’s reception of SLLU and other "radical" groups in SL depends on how relevant they see the message to them at certain times. eg, i think the radical movement in sl will become more and more relevant in the coming months as the rich make the working/middle classes suffer for the rich man’s crisis. brb

[8:43] Plot Tracer: sorry, rl tends to creep in :) back

[8:43] Noah Gearbox: Haha, that's fine

[8:44] Noah Gearbox: I always find myself multitasking when I'm in SL
Do you generally find that people are more interested in "entertainment" type events like concerts, etc?

[8:45] Plot Tracer: yup - i am at the mo promoting videos I have edited for my rl political party and liaising with activists out and about at the moment lol
I think originally when SLLU started (about 3 1/2 yrs ago) people liked to voice their dissent (eg the 24hr/7 day a week and nearly 2 month long anti-front national demos)

But I think nowadays the best way to get people involved is through music/ exhibitions/ interesting builds etc.

[8:47] Plot Tracer: also

I think avatars united is a brill way to engage with new people and bring them into organisations

[8:49] Noah Gearbox: What are some limitations you see to using SL as a platform for organising?

[8:52] Plot Tracer: I think all means of organising have limitations. I think Sl is one link in a chain of organising. I think some people think, when new types of social networking become popular that "this is the new and ONLY way!" I know rl people who argued that, for example, rl activist organisations should give up old ways to engage (newspapers/ leaflets etc) and bring everything online. similarly i know of people who jumped from yahoo groups to sl to facebook and now twitter - i feel all organisation - effective organisation - uses tried and tested methods as well as new

[8:53] Noah Gearbox: mhm

[8:54] Plot Tracer: I engage in all sorts of organisation/ education activities. Another one i use is youtube (for my rl political party) -

and blogs -

to name a few :)

[8:55] Plot Tracer: these all feed into other things @sspcampsie on twitter and the national Scottish Socialist Party website,

[8:56] Plot Tracer: and rl publications like red pepper amongst many more :)

[8:56] Noah Gearbox: nice

[8:58] Plot Tracer: at different times different aspects of these interfaces become more important... eg, at the moment i am engaged in rl public meetings and with rl media because of the General Election in UK (where in the world are u Noah?)

[8:58] Noah Gearbox: upstate NY

[8:59] Plot Tracer: k- i am in Scotland. So right away, the importance of SL and this kind of social network becomes apparent :)

[8:59] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, absolutely. :)

[8:59] Noah Gearbox: It's a good place to share our projects with each other.

[8:59] Plot Tracer: absolutely. sharing... collaborating and aiding education.

[9:01] Plot Tracer:

[9:01] Plot Tracer: the last line of the aims and principles of SLLU reads "As Freire said, and SLLU agree, each individual wins back the right to say his or own word - to name the world."

[9:02] Plot Tracer: Paulo Freire is a huge influence on the work we started here.

[9:03] Noah Gearbox: Love him! I run a radical pedagogy reading group in RL

[9:05] Noah Gearbox: Maybe one of the things that is most intriguing to me about this kind of netroots organizing is that you cannot just name the world but remake it.

[9:05] Plot Tracer: you know, that was something I thought would be a good idea for SLLU - perhaps a fortnightly reading group. Scylla Rhiadra is , along with smoke wijaya, going to build a radical bookshop/ cafe... would u be interested in running such a group here?

[9:05] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, absolutely!

Most of the books we would do are also available for free online. So that's great.

[9:11] Noah Gearbox: maybe I will just ping the group to see about general interest first

[9:12] Plot Tracer: just go right ahead and organise a meeting - perhaps first meeting to see interest and perhaps discuss regularity of meetings and what materials people will want to read.

[9:12] Noah Gearbox: Alright, sounds like a plan.

[9:13] Noah Gearbox: It might be in a couple weeks, I have to wrap up my semester here at school, so I'm rather swamped for time.

[9:13] Plot Tracer: come, I’ll show u were the bookshop etc is going to be - it might be an idea to add links in the new shop to materials so people can come here and access them...

Plot Tracer: nice one. i look forward to seeing the notices! if i am speaking to people in sllu can i give them your name to contact if they are interested?

Noah Gearbox: Yeah absolutely.

Plot Tracer: cool. ok... speak later, Noah!

Noah Gearbox: Ciao!

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